Alfa Romeo Giulietta claims first pole
Davit Kajaia claimed in the Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta the first pole position of the TCR International Series 2017 season at the Rustavi circuit. The local driver posted a time of 1:40.693 after having proved to be among the fastest drivers, fighting with Hungarian youngsters Attila Tassi and Ferenc Ficza for the top positions in the two practice sessions.
In Qualifying he made a flawless job, advancing beyond Q1 with the third fastest lap behind the pair of M1RA Honda Civic cars of Roberto Colciago and Tassi. Then, Kajaia annihilated the field in Q2, being the only driver to complete a lap under 1:41.00
Tassi and Ficza qualified in second and third, with Jean-Karl Vernay fourth in the Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi. Colciago will share the third row of the grid for Race 1 with reigning champion Stefano Comini, who was sixth in the Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS. Five different brands of car manufacturer were represented in the top six positions.
Qualifying 1: M1RA duo leads the field
The M1RA Honda Civic Type-R cars of Colciago and Tassi led the field in Q1, after an exciting escalation of improving lap times that lasted throughout the twenty minutes.
Kajaia opened the hostilities with provisional fastest laps of 1:42.731 and 1:42.252; the Georgian then had a further improvement (1:42.096) disallowed for trespassing track limits. The same penalty hit several other drivers, namely Comini (three times), Oriola, Ende and Tassi.
Colciago jumped to the top of the list a first time with a lap of 1:42.145, however he was soon demoted to second by Ficza who completed two consecutive fastest laps: 1:42.137 and 1:42.080.
With only two minutes left Colciago responded and broke the 1:42.00 barrier, clocking an impressive 1:41.777. In the dying seconds, Tassi (1:41.900) and Kajaia (1:41.968) recovered second and third places respectively.
Also on his last lap, Altoè improved from 12th to 7th, while the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo trio of Oriola, Nash and Valente filled the last three positions (10th to 12th) that gave them access to Q2. Borković was the first driver to miss the cut, as he was sidelined by a steering rack failure.
The following drivers advanced to Q2: Colciago, Tassi, Kajaia, Ficza, Vernay, Homola, Altoè, Morbidelli, Comini, Oriola, Nash and Valente
Qualifying 2: Kajaia beats Tassi and Ficza
On his first quick lap, Oriola clocked a 1:42.150 that provisionally placed him on top of the time sheet, but the Spaniard was soon demoted by the Hungarian duo of Tassi (1:41.286) and Ficza (1:41.294).
With three minutes to go, Kajaia stopped the clock at 1:40.693, a new lap record for the TCR cars at Rustavi International Motorpark, which meant pole position for the delighted Alfa Romeo driver. Just before the end, Vernay and Colciago advanced to fourth and fifth.
Once again, several drivers – Nash, Valente and Altoè – had lap times disallowed for infringing track limits, while Morbidelli went off and beached his car onto the gravel trap at Turn 4.